Complementary medicine for the management of knee and hip osteoarthritis – A patient perspective

Cho Wool Kim, Simon Stebbings, Tobias Sundberg, Niki Munk, Romy Lauche, Lesley Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Complementary medicines and therapies (CMT) are recommended in osteoarthritis (OA) treatment guidelines; however, there are few studies on CMT use in the community. The present study explored the use and perceptions of CMT for OA management in a New Zealand population.

Nineteen middle‐ to older‐aged adults with hip or knee OA, recruited from a public hospital research database, engaged in focus groups exploring CMT knowledge, factors influencing CMT use, and the role of medical professionals in the decision‐making process. Participants were organized into four groups, further to explore the impact of age or OA duration on CMT use.

Thematic analysis resulted in five themes, consistent across all groups: participants' perceptions of CMT; reasons for taking CMT; reasons for not taking CMT; sources and credibility of CMT information; and medical professionals' role in CMT use. Participants indicated a range of CMT use, yet were unclear what defined a product as ‘CMT’. CMT use was influenced by symptom severity, previous experiences of themselves or trusted others, and perceived CMT effectiveness. General practitioners were identified as participants' preferred source of CMT information, owing to both their professional knowledge and lack of commercial gain from promoting CMT use.

Participants supported CMT for OA management, based on evidence and/or experience of effectiveness. Proactive general practitioner dialogue and subsidized CMT products recommended as part of a clinical treatment plan would encourage further CMT uptake. Additionally, the development of standardized CMT terminology would facilitate patient–doctor communication regarding CMT use and promote inter‐professional dialogue regarding multidisciplinary patient treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-63
Number of pages11
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


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